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JOHNSON recommended to Mr. Boswell to keep a journal of his life, full and unreserved. He said, it would be a very good exercise, and would yield him great satisfaction when the particulars were faded from his remembrance. He counselled him to keep it private, and said he might surely have a friend who would burn it in case of his death. Mr. Boswell observed, that he was afraid he put into his journal too many little incidents.-JOHNSON. "There is nothing, Sir, too little for so little a creature as man. is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible."-Yet he said it was not necessary to mention such trifles as that meat was too much or too little done, or that the wea
ther was fair or rainy. He said, that he had twelve or fourteen times attempted to keep a journal of his life, but never could persevere. "The great thing to be recorded (said he) is the state of your own mind; and you should write down every thing that you remember, for you cannot judge at first what is good or bad; and write immediately while the impression is fresh, for it will not be the same a week afterwards.
A man may write upon a card a day all that is necessary to be written, after he has had experience of life. At first there is a great deal to be written, because there is a great deal of novelty; but when once a man has settled his opinions, there is seldom much to be set down."
"There is nothing wonderful (said he) in the journal which we see Swift kept in London, for it contains slight topicks, and it might soon be written."
"Life (he observed on another occasion) is but short; no time can be afforded but for the indulgence of real sorrow, or contests upon questions seriously momentous. Let us not throw away any of our days upon useless resentment, or contend who shall hold out longest in stubborn malignity. It is best not to be angry; and best, in the next place, to be quickly reconciled."
Again: "Life admits not of delays; when pleasure can be had, it is fit to catch it. Every
hour takes away part of the things that please us, and perhaps part of our disposition to be pleased. When I came to Litchfield (said he to Mr. Boswell), I found my old friend Harry Jackson dead. It was a loss, and a loss not to be repaired, as he was one of the companions of my childhood. I hope we may long continue to gain friends, but the friends which merit or usefulness can procure us are not able to supply the place of old acquaintance, with whom the days of youth may be retraced, and those images revived which gave the earliest delight. If you and I live to be much older, we shall take great delight in talking over the Hebridean Journey."
At another time he said, "Life is not long, and too much of it must not pass in idle deliberation how it shall be spent; deliberation which those who begin it by prudence, and continue it with subtilty, must, after long expence of thought, conclude by chance. To prefer one future mode of life to another, upon just reasons, requires faculties which it has not pleased our Creator to give us.
"If therefore the profession you have chosen has some unexpected inconveniencies, console yourself by reflecting that no profession is without them; and that all the importunities and perplexities of business are softness and luxury, compared with the incessant cravings of va
cancy, and the unsatisfactory expedients of idle
The Bishop of St. Asaph once observed, that it appeared from Horace's writings that he was a cheerful contented man. JOHNSON. "We have no reason to believe that, my Lord. Are we to think Pope was happy, because he says so in his writings? We see in his writings what he wished the state of his mind to appear. Dr. Young, who pined for preferment, talks with contempt of it in his writings, and affects to despise every thing that he did not despise."-BISHOP OF ST. ASAPH. "He was, like other chaplains, looking for vacancies; but that is not peculiar to the clergy. I remember when I was in the army, after the battle of Lafeldt, the officers seriously grumbled that no general was killed."Mr. Boswell maintained, that Horace was wrong in placing happiness in nil admirari; for that he thought admiration one of the most agreeable of all our feelings, and regretted that he had lost much of his disposition to admire, which people generally do as they advance in life.-J. “Sir, as a man advances in life, he gets what is better than admiration-judgment to estimate things at their true value.”—I still insisted (says Mr. Boswell) that admiration was more pleasing than judgment, as love is more pleasing than friendship. The feeling of friendship is like that of